Matthew Williams meets Alfred F. Jones like this:

Matthew owns a bar in a small forgotten town in one of the western states no one particularly cares about in the United States. The town is dirty and dry and sand blows into his saloon more often than he can keep it out. He slings drinks behind the bar and at night, he puts on a good show for all the rough and tumble that swagger their way in. He keeps a rifle with him too, behind the bar, because the town has its fair share of problems and Matthew's a good shot.

He had to be, back in Canada, back in a long-gone past with snow on the trees and a silly 'coon hat to keep his ears warm. The crisp smell of the trees in the winter, the bite of the wind on his nose, the ice stinging his face—it all feels so long ago. Matthew is afraid he may be forgetting.

So he grips his gun when two drunks start yelling at each other and lets off a shot by their ears when they keep yelling. After that, Matthew Williams doesn't have to do much but inch his hand closer to where he keeps the old Winchester and the people start behaving right and proper, start minding their manners and settle down real quick.

He's well known enough in the town but mostly ignored, which he can't say he minds. At some point everyone from the mayor to the priest wanders their way into his bar looking for a sympathetic ear to spill their hearts and troubles out to. And Matthew gives them that, listens while he cleans glasses and hums at all the appropriate parts, nods his head and adds a few "yes"es when he deems it necessary to contribute more. He never tells others what he's been told, even though he knows that Mister Barker from the stable has his fingers in more than just business ventures or that Miss Sarah is coming of age soon and has her eyes on the young farmhand on her father's ranch.

A good barkeeper is one that can pour out the alcohol but keep the secrets that get spilled to himself. So Matthew does just that, and although he knows everyone in town, they hardly seem to notice him. He is just another aspect of the scenery, a light fixture or a decorative piece.

The town they're in encourages people to blow through it. There's no reason to stay other than the fact that some people just get stuck and can't seem to find a way out. That doesn't apply to Matthew, who willingly rooted himself in the dry soil, but most of the people that come are just strangers looking for a drink and a place to rest their heads before they move onto bigger prospects, until they move further west, usually looking for gold in California but sometimes not. Those people leave towns behind them, the stranglers who are too tired to keep going. And then come the people like Matthew, just searching for a new start.

Matthew is used to seeing strangers' faces, sallow eyed and haunted. The people who just blow into town with the dusty wind and ask for a drink are the people Matthew watches closely. He knows by now the quirks and eccentricities of the regulars, he knows their limits and when to cut them off and when to encourage just one more drink (he is a business man, after all). But the strangers are foreign. They are by their very nature liable to cause trouble because they are unpredictable, because Matthew doesn't know their habits.

So a stranger blows into town, which isn't unusual, and Matthew watches.

The stranger has spurs on, and they clank against the grown with each step. He has a gun too, in a holster around his waist. And that concerns Matthew. It's not the presence of the gun, but the brazen way in which the stranger displays it. The concern is in the shine of the metal, obviously taken care of, and in the wear around the grip. It's been used and used, and Matthew notes all these things and more before the man even seats himself at the bar.

He tilts his hat back, the wide brimmed one Matthew always insists on his patrons taking off and his eyes are blue, bluer than the sky Matthew used to watch back in Canada, and set behind a rectangular frame of glasses. There's dirt rubbed on his nose and cheeks and his skin has the dark tan Matthew sees on the farmhands from too much time spent under the high sun. The stranger smiles at Matthew and there are dimples when he does so, white teeth straight and clean as he tugs up his lips.

"One whiskey," he orders and he holds up a leather gloved finger when he does so. Matthew takes note of that too, and wonders if that means he rides often (he already knows the man rides, the spurs and chaps indicators of that). He also notes the accent, the drawl in his words that tugs them at the ends and slows them down.

"One whiskey," Matthew repeats and grabs a bottle and shot glass from under the bar to fill up. He looks away from the stranger to pour the drink and by the time he looks back, the hat is off and sitting on the bar. His hair is yellow, like the mid-noon sun, and Matthew is struck by how handsome the stranger is, with his yellow hair and white teeth and blue eyes. An oasis in a desert, those eyes are.

The stranger takes the glass from him and downs the drink in one big gulp. His eyes wander too, casting about the room before settling on a few men in the back playing cards. The smile comes again but this time it's slyer and Matthew wonders about that, about the smiles the stranger gives. But it's not his job to speculate so Matthew simply continues to watch and assess.

"Barkeep," the stranger says, drawing Matthew's thoughts away by tapping his empty glass against the top of the bar. "Can I get four more?"

Matthew nods, pulls out the glasses and starts pouring. Four would be enough for the three men in the back and the stranger, and Matthew briefly spares a thought as to what he may possibly be up to before sliding the glasses over to him. The man takes them, downing his in one big gulp again before swaggering over to the men, the other three drinks in hand.

Matthew is too far away to hear what they're saying but he does hear the clapping when the stranger presents the drinks with a flourish. The men scramble to make room for him, settling him down with hearty laughs and encouraging slaps on his backs. Maybe they all know each other, Matthew thinks, an old friend reunited.

They don't, he knows, because he knows the men in the back and they would have mentioned something like that. But Matthew simply chooses to pretend in this instance. Under the bar, he fingers the rifle.

The men prove to be no trouble, though, and settle the stranger down for a game. After a short while, they begin to wave Matthew over with drink orders. It's a simple gesture, the stranger raising four fingers into the air and Matthew walking over and pouring them more whiskey. An efficient, mechanical system.

The sun, which sat high in the sky when the stranger first walked in, begins to inch closer to the horizon. The men in the back are loud and laughing, but are mostly harmless as they play their cards and get progressively drunker. The stranger stands at one point in what is sure to be a dramatic gesture, but stumbles over and falls to the ground, causing the other men to break out into another uproar as they slap hands against knees. Matthew runs over to help the man, ready to tell him "You're cut off, eh," but when he leans over to tug the man up, he can smell no whiskey on his breath nor can he see any of the clouding over that often occurs in the eyes of the drunk.

That can only mean that the stranger is sober and is pretending.

So Matthew tugs him back up and goes back over to the bar and thinks.

Thinks as to why a man would pretend to be drunk while staying sober and thinks about what benefit buying rounds of drinks for everyone could possibly have. The conclusions Matthew begins to draw are not particularly pleasant.

His musings are interrupted when there's a shout from the back of the hall. He doesn't see much but then there's a fist flying at the stranger's grinning face and the crack of something and blood starts to spurt from the man's broken nose. But the stranger is laughing, even as Matthew pulls out his rifle and takes aim.

"That's enough," Matthew calls, training the gun on the man who punched the stranger. "Now I know you're drunk, but I'm just giving you one warning—" and Matthew realizes that it's Mister Sawyer he has his gun trained on, the banker, "to clear on out of here. Understood?"

The men nod, stiffening their shoulders and staggering off and out of the bar.

The stranger lets out a whooping laugh, using a hand to pinch his nose and stop the stream of blood. "You're alright, barkeep," he says, words slurred and nasal, "I was scared there for a second but then you got that rifle out."

Matthew shrugs and doesn't answer him, moving to aim the rifle at the stranger's head. "Who are you?" he asks, casually cocking the gun. The man starts, falling out of his chair and onto the ground as he scrambles to take cover.

"What the fuck!" he shouts when Matthew makes no move to put down the weapon. "Are you fuckin' crazy? Put that thing away!"

"Who are you and what were you doing," Matthew reasserts. And then because he isn't sure if that's convincing enough, he adds, "Before I lose my patience."

That garners a reaction because the stranger tosses his hands up and shouts, "I'm Alfred F. Jones! Shit, just put the gun down, damn it!"

Matthew obliges him, lowering the gun and walking over to Alfred. "Well, Alfred, that's one part of my question, now you need to answer the rest," he says, "and make it quick, eh."

"Where you from?" Alfred asks dumbly from under him. "I'm sure I'd know that accent anywhere. An' I kept wonderin' when I heard you talk but I didn't wanna just ask you."

Matthew feels like pointing out that he was just "asking" him right now, but resists the urge. Some people were simply too dumb to even deserve his ire. "Get out of my bar," he settles on instead, "and don't come back."

He's half way back to the bar when he hears Alfred call out, "We were jus' playin' cards, honest. I can't help it if they're all sore losers."

"I don't really care," Matthew informs him, back turned to where Alfred is sitting. "Now, get out of my bar."

He hears Alfred sigh from somewhere nearby and feels a tug on the chain that he keeps attached to his glasses. "You're a hard one, barkeep," Alfred tells him, low and close by his ear, so that he's practically breathing the words into Matthew, "I'll be by later." And then Alfred is gone, snagging the hat he had left on the bar top and putting it on with a jaunty flick.

He leaves the money he won from the game in his hat's place.

And that is how Matthew Williams meets one Alfred F. Jones.

Matthew sighs, settling down by the bar after Alfred leaves. The sun is almost set and he needs to close down while he gets ready for the night, but for a moment he takes a break to just breathe. He thinks briefly about the bottle of good wine hidden under the bar, but does not go to get it. When Francis comes, he'll pull it out and they'll have a toast, and Matthew will tell him all his woes and sorrows, the ones he can't afford to tell his costumers. When Francis comes, he'll do this.

Matthew is starting to think Francis will never come.

But he nonetheless leaves the bottle there, just in case. Francis had promised to come, after he had accrued enough wealth to take them to Paris. So Matthew would wait, until he received notice or until his hope just dried up.

He stands, crossing over to the windows and closing the saloon doors, drawing the curtains down and turning on the gas lamps. Those had cost a pretty penny to have installed, but Matthew was a smart business man and he had saved enough to do so. It added a touch of class, he thought when he saw them for the first time in some city in a dream. A saloon of lights, and it wasn't as grandiose as Paris but it would do for now.

Matthew trudges up to the private section of the saloon where he lives with something akin to dread. He doesn't particularly relish this part of his job but a saloon was needed for more than just drinks. It was a place to see dancers and be entertained and Matthew couldn't exactly afford to pay for women to dance about the place while the men hooted and hollered at them.

So he did it himself.

Which meant lacing himself up in a corset—a purple thing that he could hardly breathe in and that made it difficult to sit, so he had to lean on things and take shallow breaths—and rolling on hose with a seam that ran up the back and topped off in garters. He still felt too overexposed like this, even though he did it most nights. It was hard to do alone, although he'd asked a woman of a not so holy reputation to explain the basics. Matthew also had to lean over and apply the basic cosmetics—a touch of shadow on his eyes and rouge on his cheeks.

He was lucky he was naturally fair and smooth, the lady had remarked, a powder brush in hand. It meant he didn't need to apply it as thickly, like she did, to appear young. Matthew personally had thought that the woman was striking, in an old world way. She could have been anyone's mother, a little too large for life, too filled with love. America had a way of reducing people sometimes.

Matthew prefers not to revisit these memories, the awkward ones where he still stumbled around in his heels like a new born colt taking its first steps. He isn't sure whether or not to be proud of the fact that he can do the process by himself these days, that he knows which way to fluff and pin his hair with feathers for the maximum effect, that he can tell when just enough red is needed for his lips and how much kohl should line his eyes

At this point, it's second nature, even if it's a nature he doesn't particularly care for. So Matthew huffs and awkwardly ties the strings to the corset—and it never fits as snug as he would like, when he does it himself, but that's a secret only he knows—and applies the cosmetics. He tugs his hair down from the practical tail he keeps it in when behind the bar and fluffs it with his fingers a little so that curls are bouncy and carefully pins back half of it with a clip of purple and black feathers. The men seemed to prefer that, when his hair was loose and hung near his shoulders and it bounced with his gait.

He checks in the mirror to make sure he's clean-shaven and that has perhaps been the most difficult thing. He keeps his body mostly hairless these days, shaving his legs and his arms and using a cream the woman had mentioned so that his skin is smooth and soft to the touch. Then on go the little black ruffled things that cover the tops of his thighs and little else, and he would call them bloomers but they are far, far too short, and he's ready, save for putting on the high heeled shoes. Matthew saves those for last, because they're uncomfortable and make him walk awkwardly.

He's ready to put on the show that the people of this small western town have come to expect from Matthew William's sister Madeleine. If the town is known for anything, it would be this, and Matthew never fails to host a full house. He wouldn't do it if it wasn't necessary, he tells himself, and smoothes a hand down the boning of the corset, sucks in a deep breath to feel it tighten around his body.

That's all. Necessity. It's hard to run a business, even a relatively lucrative one, by yourself, so he worked two parts and it brought in more money than just the one. When Francis came for him, Matthew would even have enough money put away to help with the crossing of the Atlantic. And then Matthew could quit and burn the corset while they got drunk off of champagne and wine and walked down the Champs-Élysées. So for now he does what he needs to, just until then.

The sun was starting to set. He needed to go reopen the bar.

He pulled on the heels and laced them tight—he found from personal practice that it was easier to walk when they were tight around the ankle—and gave himself a final glance over in the full length mirror, in particular checking his hose, which had a tendency to gain inexplicable runs. Matthew feels for the women, he truly does, who have to do this all day.

The heels pinch his toes as he makes his way down the stairs. This is the part he hates the most, the presentation of himself like some cheap prize for men to salivate at, to call beautiful and try to win the affections of with money and gifts. The horrible part is that he knows he would take it for the right price, give them a nasty discovery when they pulled off the ensemble and realized it was the barkeep underneath, meek and quiet and most assuredly a male. But he also knows he'd be driven out of town at best, killed at worst.

Matthew doesn't really like to think these thoughts, so he opens the saloon the same way he does in the day, a no-nonsense push of the doors and a drawing back of the curtains. His piano man, Jake from the local church, makes his way in soon after with a small wave and a "Good evenin', Miss Madeleine," before settling at the instrument he's meant to play.

Matthew nods a hello, affecting the cool attitude that he's perfect over the years, before hoisting himself up to sit on the small stage with his legs crossed.

Jake picks a tune that's lively and soon enough, the men of the town start pouring in to the saloon, huffing and laughing. They pause, like always, when they see Matthew before letting out a whoop. That's the signal for Matthew to go to work. It's a routine he's become accustomed to by this point, although at first it had been a little degrading. In the heels, he rivals the tallest of the men, a great giant from Russia that always orders vodka, which Matthew keeps especially stocked for him, no one else ever expressing any desire to drink it.

He snakes his way through the crowd to the bar, avoiding hands that reach out to touch him. When the hands do get to close, he chides them gently away with a coy smile and a look from beneath his eyelashes.

He's nearly blind when he dresses like this, having to put down his glasses in favor of heated up elderberry applied to his eyelashes to make them look thicker. It's hard, especially in the dim lighting of the saloon, but it's another thing that he just grits his teeth to and bears with a smile. The patrons find it cute for the most part, helping him along the few times he accidently bumps into them. Some demand compensations—a kiss from the pretty li'l lady—which Matthew bears through as well. He's starting to suspect that's all he does, bear through things.

It's not a pleasant thought, so he avoids it too, with all the careful grace he's acquired over the years. He's getting quite good at that.

Matthew carefully sidesteps a grab at his hair and calls out a fair warning. "Hands off the goods, lovelies," he says, sauntering a little when one of the men lets out a cat-call. He's finally able to make it behind the bar, amidst the jubilant cries of the men when they see him bring out the alcohol. He smiles a little at them, flutters his eyelashes for effect, and waits for them to settle down some.

"Now, boys," Matthew simpers, and tries to force back the instinctive nausea at his tone, "y'all know how this works."

The men nod their heads in unison, a chorus of "Yes'm" following his words.

"So I'm gonna put this bottle of whiskey for sale and you boys are gonna bid on it. Highest bidder gets the bottle," and he crosses into the front of the bar, playing up his appeal by sticking out a leg first, clad in a sheer black stocking for all the men to see, "and a kiss from me," and then he pouts his lips.

"Bid starts at one dollar even," Jake calls from the piano. "Have fun, boys."

There's a sudden hush over the crowd as all the men wait for someone to make the first call. It's always this way, until Matthew pulls himself on the bar and stretches one long leg up to "readjust" a stocking. Then there's a clamor of noise and a few shouts as men call out their bids. One dollar rises by ten cents and then by a nickel. It rises to one fifty and then to two dollars. Matthew fluffs his hair while he waits, twisting a strand around a finger before lying down completely on the bar top.

That manages to get the price all the way up to three dollars.

It's in that position that Matthew traces a hand up one leg, stopping just short of the knickers. He likes this position best, if only because with his eyes fixed up at the ceiling, the men can't see his disinterested gaze.

Then he sucks a finger into his mouth, draws it out slowly and traces the curve on the top of the corset.

The price rises to six dollars. He usually averages around there, so he sits up to call out a winner when a voice in the back suddenly shouts, "Fifty dollars!"

A hush follows as the men try to place the voice. Matthew squints to see the bidder, but he's too far away to be made out.

"Fifty dollars," the voice repeats, "for the whole night."

Matthew lets out a laugh, tries to keep the hysteria from creeping in at its corners. "Mister," he says, "if you have fifty dollars, you could have me right here on this bar." He pats down the bar next to him. The men in the crowd laugh at his joke and Matthew smiles encouragingly at them. "Now, which one of y'all fine gentlemen placed the last bid?"

Matthew hears the spurs before he sees the man. "That's mighty fine of you, miss, but I like to do things right and proper and on a bed. But here's the fifty dollars," and he feels the money being tucked in at the edge of his garters.

A nose nuzzles it way into his hair and Matthew suddenly wants to flee, longs for the invisibility brought on by his day persona. "You smell good," the man whispers roughly next to his ear. Matthew whips his head around to stare at the man. Even this close, Matthew can make out the blue eyes belonging to one Alfred F. Jones.

He pulls back abruptly, fishing the money out. "I don't do that," he informs Alfred, handing the money back over. Alfred only frowns.

He takes the money back with a conscientious look. "You're right," he agrees, but Matthew isn't sure exactly what he's agreeing to. Alfred only sighs, reaches into a pocket on his chaps and pulls out another crumpled bill. "I've never had to pay this much for a whore," he tells Matthew, who briefly envisions slapping him, "but you look worth it." Then he hands over two fifty dollar bills.

And it's very tempting. Because Alfred would most likely discover he was a man and then back out, and Matthew could promise to not compromise his reputation in exchange for the money. Alfred was a stranger, he had no way of knowing that no one in the town knew that Matthew was in fact Madeleine.

It could work, and if it did, he'd be a hundred dollars richer, which wasn't an amount to scoff at.

So Matthew takes a deep breath to steady himself and tugs Alfred into a kiss. "You've got yourself a deal," he tells Alfred.

Against his lips, Alfred smiles briefly before Matthew pulls himself away. His lips leave red marks on Alfred and he wipes them off with a causal thumb before doing the same to his own. "Sorry, boys," Matthew announces, "but it's time to close up shop for the night. This gentleman has won tonight's game."

The men groan in disappoint but leave when Jake ushers them out. "Night, Miss Madeleine," Jake calls out before he begins to leave as well.

"Goodnight, Jacob," Matthew returns.

Alfred's on him after that, a hand pawing at his hair and tugging him closer. Rough lips find his neck and Matthew can't help the startled moan that comes out. A hand passes itself over his body, exploring artificial curves.

"I thought you said you wanted a bed?"

Alfred chuckles, lips sucking a mark onto Matthew's neck. Matthew spares a thought about what that'll look like in the morning and later that evening when he'll need to cover it up.

"No marks," he tells Alfred, only to be ignored. "No ma—" Matthew starts to insist but then feels a rough hand trace up the sensitive part of his inner thighs, right above where his stockings come short and the garters begin. The moan is instinctive and reactionary and this is moving too fast, Alfred's closing in on things he doesn't know, so Matthew tears himself away with a shy giggle. "Now, Mister Jones, I'm gonna have to insist on a bed," he states with a demure glance at the ground.

Alfred smiles a smile of molasses, all smooth and slow as it lazily fills his face. "Sweetheart," he says, running a fond thumb over the mark he's just left on Matthew's neck, "I never told you my name."

Matthew's brain stops for a minute, all thinking processes slowing and turning off.

Alfred laughs then. "So barkeep, what's your real name?" he asks, helping himself to the bottle of alcohol that started this entire thing. "And, uh," he sweeps a cursory look over Matthew's figure, "do you do this often?"

Matthew stutters for a few seconds before exhaling sharply through his nose. "My name is Matthew Williams," he says, grabbing the alcohol and taking a long swig of it. Alfred just watches him, clearly amused. "It brings in extra revenue," Matthew finally admits after a long pause.

Alfred nods his understanding. "I ain't sayin' anything 'bout it, sweetheart," Alfred confides, although his eyes do the same long sweep. Matthew feels a little akin to prey, being sized up and mentally weighed for its worth. He glances down again at the garters, which seem to bring him particular fascination.

There's a silence in which the two men continue to drink steadily, passing the bottle back and forth. "I'm keeping the money," Matthew tells Alfred, finally.

Alfred nods at that too. "That's fine," he agrees. "I'm keepin' my night with you, so it's only fair."

Matthew's thought processes go white and peaceful. He's in Canada, suddenly, among snow and winter. Everything is white, and the only sound he can hear is the stream that lies rushing just beyond the small ridge to the north. He knows if he looks around he'll see his house, smoke coming from the chimney top. He wants to stay here. He wonders why he ever left.

He's brought back to the real world with a gentle kiss on his lips. "You gonna show me to the bedroom?" Alfred asks, already pacing up the stairs. Matthew follows too dazed to do anything else.

He isn't sure what he expects. He's never really done this, before. Kisses were one thing but he could always scrub his lips till they were raw and the taste was gone. Because there was a fine line in what he did, trading a kiss for a few extra dollars and trading his body for a lot of money. But it was a lot of money.

At least he's attractive, Matthew thinks to assure himself. It could have been Mister Lawson, who was old and missing several teeth and had the grabbiest hands in the entire town. Alfred's attractive, in the way that all the strangers who pass by are, mysterious and unknown and unlikely to stay. It's this thought that forces Matthew to climb the stairs to the bedroom. Unlikely to stay, and it's a powerful thought indeed.

Alfred's tugging his belt off when Matthew enters the room. He shrugs out of his shirt and waistcoat with ease, tossing the articles of clothing to the ground carelessly. It's his gun that he takes off with obvious care, setting on the small dresser in the room.

Matthew isn't familiar with the process to all of this, if he's supposed to strip or wait, if he's supposed to tease Alfred or wait for Alfred to come to him. He was hoping that somewhere on the stairs, it would become clear to him what to do. But it hasn't and it still isn't. In the band of the garters, the money sears a mark onto his skin.

He flutters around the room nervously for awhile, watching Alfred watch him, and then he settles down, calms his heart and wills his mind to think. His hands go to the ties of the corset, beginning to tug them loose. Matthew is stopped by a hoarse cry from Alfred, who circles around him and starts to lace them back up.

"Don't take it off, sweetheart," Alfred requests, tugging the laces hard. Matthew lets out a sharp exhalation in breath, body doubling over as he moans. There is a pause from behind him and then a mouth makes it way next to his ear. "You like this," Alfred marvels, yanking again. Matthew's body jerks in reaction, another moan pouring out before he can stop it.

Behind him, Alfred sighs and his voice is soft when he speaks. "I wonder how tight I can get it," and then laughs when Matthew pants in response. "I think I might try that," is all Alfred adds before Matthew feels himself pressed up against the dresser that has Alfred's gun on top of it. He steadies himself by taking grip of the ledge it provides, bending his body as he gasps for breath. Inside the knickers, Matthew's cock stirs.

Alfred chuckles, placing a light kiss on a bare shoulder. "I could buy you up every night, sweetheart, and lace you up real tight like this," and he punctuates the statement with a pull. Matthew sucks in lungful after lungful of air, desperately trying to bring some sort equilibrium back to his state. He feels like he's flying and his head is lighter than the air around it and all he can think is tighter.

And Alfred must know what Matthew's thinking, because he tugs a little more and it's the tightest Matthew's ever been in a corset, and the pleasure sparks in his brain and heads low. He feels like he could come just from this, bent over a dresser gasping for breath. A calloused hand strokes the back of his thighs lightly, before digging, nails a stark pinpoint to the pleasure that keeps tingling over his body.

"Got anything to ease this, sweetheart?" Alfred asks from somewhere distant. He sounds miles away, but that may just be Matthew's fault, because he feels a million miles away. He's in Paris, under all the lights, as they set off, illuminate the world. Alfred makes a questioning noise in the back of his throat to which Matthew just twitches in response, giving a laborious nod of his head. He reaches with a fumbling hand for one of the drawers, tugging it open and out as he grabs the cream.

There's a moment of contemplation before Alfred takes the cream. "Just a few fingers for now," he says, "but we'll get you up to more in no time." It's a promise, the edge of his voice as he says it is a promise and Matthew cannot help but to want more.

Somewhere, distantly, he feels the knickers being pulled down, feels light kisses rained over and on his shoulders and neck, feels the scrape of teeth at the knobs of his spine. There's a finger that circles around and dips in, and Matthew bites his lips and tastes blood. From above him or behind him or to the side, Alfred clicks his tongue and says, "Let me hear you," and then the finger is all the way in and it crooks to the side and hits something and then Matthew really can't breathe, even as he desperately tries to gulp down air as his hips jerk forward and grind against the wooden dresser.

Alfred just chuckles again, presses a sucking kiss just behind Matthew's ear. "Hold your thighs tight," and so Matthew does. He gets another finger for his obedience, and it causes him to toss his head back with a startled gasp, his eyes wide. Matthew feels something then, something hard between his thighs and it tucks up against his balls, the base of his cock. Alfred grunts and it slides out, and then he pushes back in, two fingers still inside Matthew. It's not going to take long for him to come, Matthew realizes, not long at all. He's hardly even touched himself in the past and now there's this, too much touch everywhere and he can't breathe, and then Alfred palms him, once, twice.

He comes abruptly and forgets to breathe while he does so. He feels Alfred come too, feels him jerk behind him and then warmth on his inner thighs. It takes a few minutes for Matthew to come completely, the deprivation extending the orgasm. Then he hears a rip and suddenly the corset isn't there anymore, and Matthew takes in breath after breath to steady his heart. His legs feel like they're about to collapse from under him so he leans against the dresser.

Matthew doesn't know why it stands out to him, but the gun has a pearl inlay with an ornately engraved AFJ. He feels like that's important, somehow, but he doesn't honestly care at this point in time.

Alfred pulls him over to the bed and cuddles up with him. His stubble burns marks against Matthew's skin from where he rasps words unto Matthew. They feel like love and other things, pet names, and sweetheart, sugared, honeyed words that Matthew basks in before sleep overtakes him. Alfred just settles in close behind him, and in the morning Matthew will yell at him for ripping the corset, will insist on giving him the money back, will piece together why the pearl inlay and the initials are important. In the morning, Alfred will ask where Matthew is from again and why there's a bottle of wine waiting for a dead man.

But that's the morning. For now there's sleep.